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Northern Ireland farmers demand compensation over 2017 floods

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Call: Victor Chesnutt

Call: Victor Chesnutt

Call: Victor Chesnutt

Farmers who have fought a three-year battle for compensation after being badly affected by flash flooding say they will no longer sit back and be ignored.

The flooding and subsequent landslides in the Glenelly Valley and Drumahoe areas caused devastation in August 2017, with 63% of the average monthly rainfall coming down within an eight-to-nine-hour period.

While many people who were left homeless received help, farmers who lost livestock and crops, had land washed away, fencing destroyed and were left with fields covered in silt and muck have not received compensation and they say they have now waited long enough.

Among those still in limbo is Glenelly farmer William McKelvey, who had 21 acres of silage destroyed and fencing washed away. He lost use of the land for a year.

"Work has been done to provide new fencing along the river, but that's the only positive for us and it's a very small compensation," he said.

"When we met the permanent secretary last year we were basically told we weren't value for money and there was a frosty end to the meeting.

"It took me three weeks to clear up the muck that had been washed down from the mountain from the land and then I had to reseed it. We are the forgotten people in all of this."

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: "Immediately after the floods the UFU presidential team at the time visited a number of farms in the Glenelly Valley and Drumahoe area. We witnessed the devastation first-hand. While the damage was relatively localised, we were totally shocked and saddened by the unbelievable scenes of destruction.

"The severe flash flooding and landslides swept farmland off hillsides, torrents of water burst rivers washing fields away and silt, stones, hedges, fencing and gates into fields. To make matters worse, farmers in those affected areas never received any funding because there was no Agriculture Minister and DAERA did not have the ability to make the decision regarding financial support.

"Meanwhile, across the border farmers successfully received aid following the flooding.

"When the UFU held its first official meeting with Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots at the start of the year, high on our agenda was the farmers who were affected by the 2017 flooding in the Glenelly Valley and have still not been compensated for their losses. We are continuing to make a case for those affected."

DAERA has not yet replied to a request for comment.

Belfast Telegraph